This year’s Virginia General Assembly Session is for the most part complete and, as usual, Virginia lawmakers addressed (in some cases unsuccessfully) multiple construction industry issues. Here is a rundown of the House and Senate bills that passed and will become new law as of July 1, 2018. A few bills that did not pass and some that might live to be the subject of debate later this year or in next year’s Session are also included.
BILLS THAT PASSED
Prohibition Against Pre-Labor/Material Waiver of Mechanic’s Lien Rights (SB 319/HB 823) Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville):
This bill provided that a general contractor may not be forced to waive his or her mechanic’s lien rights in a contract before furnishing any labor or material to a project. A general contractor may, however, contract to subordinate lien rights to prior and subsequent recorded deeds of trust, provided that the contract is in writing and is signed by the contractor. This bill was passed by the House and the Senate, was approved by Governor Northam, and will become law on July 1, 2018.
Amendment to Uniform Statewide Building Code (HB 859) Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover):
This bill will become part of the Uniform Statewide Building Code and will provide that cities, counties, and towns may enter into agreements with one another for the provision of technical support and assistance with administration and enforcement of the Building Code. The intent of the bill, which will become law on July 1, is to reduce the waiting time for building inspections, which has been an issue in some localities.
Regulation of Drones, also known as “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” or “UAS” (SB 526/HB 638) Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg):
Drones used for inspections and other contract administration tasks are an increasing presence on construction sites. This bill sets limits on drone usage (drones may not come within 50 feet of a residence) and, importantly, makes permanent the prohibition against a local government’s ability to regulate privately-owned UAS. Governor Northam made technical edits to this bill, which apparently will become law on July 1.
Workforce Development (HB 1552) Del. Matthew James (D-Portsmouth):
This bill directs the Virginia Board of Workforce Development to recommend strategies to identify and engage discouraged and unemployed workers not currently served by the workforce system and to measurably improve the performance of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Under the bill, which becomes law as of July 1, the Board is to report on the recommended strategies by October 1, 2019.
High School to Work Partnerships (HB 544/SB 960) Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper):
This bill permits local school boards to establish “High School to Work Partnerships” between public high schools and local businesses to create opportunities for high school students to participate in apprenticeships in a variety of trades and skilled labor positions.
BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS
Virginia Public Procurement Act – Statutes of Limitations on Construction Contracts and Bonds (HB 1084) Del. David Yancey (R-Newport News):
This bill would have provided that no lawsuit could be brought by any public body on a construction contract more than five years after completion of the contract. This would be a significant change to current Virginia law, which currently provides that statutes of limitation do not apply to the Commonwealth. The bill also would have limited the time frame during which a public body, other than VDOT, could bring a lawsuit against a surety on a performance bond to five years after completion of the contract, including the expiration of warranties, even if a defect in the construction was discovered after the five-year period was up. Current state law allows such an action within one year of either (i) completion of the contract including the expiration of all warranties, or (ii) discovery of the defect giving rise to the claim (even if the defect was discovered after the one-year period was up). This bill would have significantly limited the ability of public bodies to bring construction claims against contractors. Virginia public universities in particular aggressively (and successfully) opposed the bill.
Apprenticeship Agreements – Ratio of Apprentices to Journeymen (HB 1233) Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax and Prince William):
This bill would have increased the Apprenticeship Council’s standards governing the ratio of apprentices to journeymen in apprenticeship agreements from its current one-to-one ratio (apprentices to journeymen) to two-to-one, the sponsor suggesting that this could alleviate the demand for more workers. The bill passed along party lines in the House, with Republicans favoring the bill and Democrats opposing it, but then was defeated in the Senate by a 21-19 margin.
Construction Trust Act – Money Paid by Owner to Contractor (SB 272) Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax):
This bill would have imposed personal liability, including personal liability for attorneys’ fees, upon any contractor who does not hold funds in trust for the subcontractors performing work or furnishing materials and who knowingly uses that money for any purpose other than for paying subcontractors. This bill would have expanded the potential liability for contractors holding funds under Virginia’s current “prompt pay” law, which currently imposes criminal liability, but not personal civil liability, for misuse of funds. This bill was continued to 2019 in the Senate Courts and Justice Committee.
Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (HB 40) Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria):
This bill would have created the Family and Medical leave Insurance Program, which would have imposed an excise tax on employers of 0.2% of the wages paid by the employer in any calendar year, as well as a tax of 0.2% on the wages received by every employee, in order to fund the program. The bill was left in the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee.
Wage and Salary History Inquiries (HB 240) Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke):
This bill would have prohibited an employer from (i) attempting to obtain wage or salary history of a prospective employee from current or former employers, or (ii) requiring prospective employees to disclose wage or salary history. The bill was left in the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee.
“Predictive” Scheduling (HB 1569) Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (D-Woodbridge):
This bill would have required employers, pursuant to a policy known as “predictive scheduling,” to give certain employees, prior to the first day work, a good faith estimate of the employee’s expected minimum shifts per month and the days and hours of those shifts. This bill was also left in the House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee.
As president of Hirschler and head of the firm's litigation section, Courtney knows how to lead people and projects to a successful outcome.
Leveraging deep experience in the construction industry, Courtney advises public and ...
Kelly’s practice focuses on construction law, commercial and product liability law, with an emphasis on dispute resolution—including mediation, arbitration, jury and bench trials in state and federal court. She routinely ...
Nate fully engages in each case and shoulders his clients’ needs. Communication, efficiency and careful judgment define his practice. In every case, he investigates competing claims to thoroughly understand their strengths ...
A professional engineer (P.E.) and an experienced lawyer, Webb began practicing at Hirschler Fleischer following four years of work as a consulting engineer. His multidisciplinary practice focuses on general business and ...
SubscribeSubscribe to Hirschler by Email
- Kelly Bundy and Liz Burneson Publish Article on Joint Employer Status in Construction Executive
- Kelly Bundy Authors Article for ABA Construction Law Forum’s “Under Construction” Series
- Miller Act Notice More Than 90 Days Before A Subcontractor’s Final Day of Work Held Untimely
- Virginia Supreme Court Allows Sub-Sub Material Supplier To Recover Directly From General Contractor For Unpaid Material
- New Virginia Law Can Make General Contractors Liable for Subcontractors' Employee Wages
- OSHA Changes Course on COVID-19 Record-Keeping Requirements
- New OSHA Guidance Suspends Enforcement of Record-Keeping Requirements for COVID-19 Cases in Most Industries
- What the Virginia Temporary Stay at Home Order Means for Your Business
- Ten Tips For Addressing Coronavirus Concerns In Your Workplace
- Closure of “Non-Essential Businesses” and “Stay at Home” Orders: What Do These Mean for the Construction Industry?
- COVID-19, Coronavirus Outbreak
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Little Miller Act
- Miller Act
- Dispute Resolution
- Government Contracts
- Workforce Development
- Department of Labor (DOL)
- Mechanic's Liens
- Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR)
- Joint Checks
- Unjust Enrichment
- Virginia Employment Commission (VEC)
- Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission
- Uniform Statewide Building Code
- Change Orders
- August 2020
- July 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- November 2019
- August 2019
- June 2019
- April 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- December 2018
- October 2018
- September 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- April 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- November 2017
- October 2017
- September 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016